Vaping Epidemic Linked to Illegitimate THC Carts

VapesVERMONT-In the end of August, the health department issued a health advisory on the multi state outbreak of lung disease associated with e-cigarette use. Since then, authorities have been trying to get to the bottom of it.  

“The US Surgeon General, he put out a kind of brief, that said this has reached epidemic proportions,” said Tennyson Marceau, the Prevention Specialist at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital(NVRH). 

This epidemic has continued to flourish across the nation, primarily taking aim at the younger generations.  “All throughout schools, if you look at some of the FDA information, there was a 78% increase in  high school use of vaping products, and there was over a 50% increase in middle schools” said Marceau. A few states around the country, including the state of Vermont, have taken action to try and combat this. “We raised the age to 21, we acknowledged that vaping is becoming an epidemic, we increased the tax by a significant amount. So we saw this coming,” said Governor Phil Scott.  


 A lot of teens have taken up vaping, as it is easy to hide, and unlike cigarettes they come in all sorts of flavors.  Governor Scott says, “Im very concerned about the flavored substances that are injected into the vaping products. I know other states have banned this, at least in the short term”. 


New Hampshire, which borders the state, still has their tobacco age set at the age of 18, and has yet to offer any sort of ban on vaping products.  Regardless, just like alcohol, people who are underage are still managing to get their fix. Marceau says that “there is a large percentage of youth that get it from a friend, or maybe a family member. So we have to be cognizant about that, and we try and educate the parents and the youth about the dangers of this.”  


Krystal Kinney, a manager at NEK Vapor, says that “the vaping illnesses are being linked to THC carts and they’re not…. making that known. They’re just blaming vaping.” When asked about how the health scare has impacted her business, she said, “it really hasn’t affected us, because it’s not something that we’re doing, it’s not something we’re causing. It’s the THC carts. I just wish the Government would do a little bit more research, before they start making it out to be this big deal that they have”  


But in a recent report released just last week, the CDC says that the latest findings “suggest products containing THC, particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources, are linked to most of the cases” adding that they “play a major role in the outbreak”. And while those who vape tobacco products may be able to take a sigh of relief, some vaping businesses are tired of being blamed.


As of October 29th, 1,888 cases nation wide have been reported, with 37 confirmed deaths across 24 states. Here in Vermont, 26 cases have been reported, but only 3 have been confirmed to be linked to vaping.  “We’re trying to explain to them that we don’t have enough research and data to tell us exactly why vaping is bad, except for what we’re seeing around the country,” said Heather Nelson, the Lead Respiratory Therapist at NVRH. 


Marceau says, “Please make a smart choice and do not use a product that you don’t know what its actually going to do to you,” and Nelson also stresses the importance education, as “this is going straight to your lungs [and] your brain”